Pubdate: Sat, 20 Feb 2010
Source: Marietta Times, The (OH)
Copyright: 2010 The Marietta Times
Author: Bob Dahler


Regarding the Marietta Times' Friday, Jan. 15, headline  story: "Drug 
testing at MHS?"

According to the school officials, teachers, and  coaches interviewed 
for this article, there appears to  be no identifiable drug problem 
within the Marietta  school system. Good news indeed and credit 
should be  given to the school board and all system employees 
for  this accomplishment. The testimonials in the article  related to 
drug abuse prevention is evidence that  regular, open conversation 
between adult role models  and students is a proven abuse deterrent.

It is however, perplexing that the main thrust of the  article was 
not about the statistically proven  methodology mentioned above being 
a success, but  rather, about the need to institute a new and 
controversial program, mandatory drug testing.

The summary of the balance of the article is the  justification of 
the desire for mandatory drug testing  of students involved in 
extracurricular activities,  even though there is no perceived "need" 
and utilizes  the following logic ... "Some other school systems are 
doing it, so we should, too." This begs the  observation: the same 
faulty reasoning that many  students succumb to when it comes to drug 
abuse; "Other  people are doing it, so consequentially, I will, too," 
is now being proposed by the school system. The irony  of this double 
standard will not be lost on the  students.

One reason why drug testing is so controversial, unlike  the existing 
programs employed and proven viable by the  Marietta school system, 
is that there is no evidence  that drug testing is an effective 
deterrent to drug  abuse. It is, however, a somewhat reliable method 
of "catching" a person who has test results indicating  (not proving) 
a drug dependency. The problem is, when  drug testing identifies a 
student as a drug user, the  potential problems are not automatically 
solved. To  what extent the Marietta school system is willing to 
provide students who fail drug screenings with support  and treatment 
is of paramount concern. Exclusion from  extracurricular activities 
will not solve a drug abuse  problem any more effectively than the 
expulsion of a  student solves an attendance problem.

Most district employees are trained in recognizing  at-risk behavior 
in students with drug dependency  issues, so perhaps we need to 
continue our proven  strategy in addressing individual problems as 
they  arise, as our sister districts throughout the rest of  the 
county have wisely chosen to do, rather than  embarking on an 
expensive regime of mandatory drug  tests, whereas all Marietta 
students are presumed  guilty of drug abuse until proven innocent.

Bob Dahler
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